How to keep your dog cool in the summer
by Hannah Woods
We all wish for a long warm summer; BBQ’s, trips to the beach, and of course the beer garden after a busy week at work. But our dogs don’t always enjoy the British summer as much as we do. So read on to find out how to keep your dogs happy and cool this summer.
Look out for signs of heat stroke.
Before we go into how we can prevent our dogs from getting too warm, it’s important to understand the signs of heatstroke so you can identify them early on and take action.
The RSPCA states that there are 4 main warning signs of heatstroke:
Difficulty breathing and heavy panting
Excessive amounts of drooling (and not over your dinner)
Your dog appears to be lethargic, drowsy, or uncoordinated.
Your dog vomits or collapses
If your dog displays any of these signs, it must reduce its body temperature gradually. But how can you help cool them down quickly?
The best way to cool your dog down is to move your dog into a shaded area and pour cool water over them. Ensure the water is not freezing cold as this can cause shock! Once cool, call your vets and get them seen as soon as possible - even if you think they appear better.
We all know that getting exercise and heading out on a long dog walk is good for our mental health and the benefits for our companions are endless. However, when we finally get a hot day it is important to consider that our pups can’t handle the heat as much as we can. We’re not saying that dogs cannot walk for the whole of the summer, but there are things to think about before heading out.
A general rule of thumb is if the pavement is too hot for our hands, it’s definitely too hot for our dogs' paws. If you can, take your dog out early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooled down - definitely avoid that midday sun (yes, exactly like you were told as a kid on holiday). By avoiding open spaces and opting for shaded areas like forests, your dog can stay even cooler.
Never leave your dog in the car.
You may think you can leave your dog in the car for just a few minutes, but on a really hot day you should never leave your dog unattended - they can overheat incredibly quickly and can even be fatal. When travelling in the car there are other precautions you can take:
Ensure there is plenty of ventilation
Avoid travelling in midday heat
Invest in a sun screen for your window which will protect your dog from direct sunlight.
Water, water, water
You should always provide your dog with access to fresh water, but even more so on warm days. Consider purchasing a travel water bottle/bowl for your furry friend perfect to keep them hydrated when you are out and about in the summer.
If you’re out and about and there is a river (avoid those with strong currents) for your dog to cool down in, make sure to look out for water intoxication; this is when they swallow too much water in a short period of time. Though rare, it can be fatal so always keep an eye on them.
If there is no river nearby for them to dip their paws into, you could even buy your pup a mini paddling pool or a sprinkler especially for dogs (yes they really do exist!).
Cooling mats (both gel or water based) can also help keep your dog cool in the summer by absorbing your dog's body heat throughout the day. You need to keep them out of direct sunlight and in a cool area for them to work best, whilst you basque in sunshine and get some well-needed Vitamin D! It can take your dog a couple of days to get used to these beds, but once they do they will be cooler and happier!
Cooling coats are another effective way to reduce your dog's temperature and your pup can look very cute in the process! Simply soak them in cold water (not ice cold), wring them out and place on your furry friend to keep them cool - you might just need to top it up after a few hours. Cooling bandanas and collars are also available if your dog prefers not to wear a coat - practical and adorable.
Keep them entertained.
If your dog normally spends long hours walking but due to the warmer weather you opt for a shorter walk, they might need to be kept entertained in other ways. One day won’t make much difference but if we’re experiencing a heatwave (we can only hope) if they don’t get much exercise they may become restless, bored and sometimes destructive! You can avoid this by keeping your dog mentally stimulated throughout the day, inside or in the shade. You can preoccupy your dog with brain games such as stuffing their toys with food or buying activity toys, puzzle feeders and search games. You can even take the opportunity to teach them some new tricks.
More puppy welfare tips? Click here.